THE DAY THAT CHANGED ME FOREVER

 - Patrick Nash

First off, I wanted to give the back story on why I decided to do this. A friend of mine lost her sister a couple weeks ago and she is having a rough time right now. As I spoke to on the phone, anyone that knows me knows I hate talking on the phone, I told her a story that very few people have heard in its entirety. I have this innate ability to hold everything inside. This ability can be traced back to this moment in my life. I've known my friend for over 10 years now and she knew the general basics of this story but had never heard all of my thoughts and feelings that I went through during that time. She said that hearing my view helped her a lot just by knowing that someone has felt what she is feeling. And although it happened a long time ago, she said knowing that I have "survived" it gave her hope that she can eventually be somewhat normal again. She told me that I should share this story. Not only for those out there that are dealing with the loss of someone close to them, but for my own benefit as well. Truthfully, I have been going back and forth  to myself on if I wanted to do this or not. The answer was and still is a resounding NO. Which is kind of the reason why I feel like I should. Really more from a selfish standpoint, I'm hoping it'll help me. But if it also helps someone out there who is struggling with their own loss then that's great. On that note...

Saturday, November 16th, 1996. My sister and I were walking around Metrocenter Mall looking for a jacket. My 15th birthday was the week before (November 9th) and I was finally able to get out of school to purchase my birthday present. At this point in my life I was going to Southwest Indian School. A Native American christian boarding school that was located in Peoria, AZ. Students at this school actually lived there full time but were able to be checked out by their parents during the weekend to spend time at home. My mom had let my sister and I go to the mall so we could hang out and get my birthday present while she worked for a few hours. When we were done there we were supposed to call her to come pick us up. We probably spent a few hours there and finally decided to make the call. We found a pay phone and called our mom's work and were told she wasn't there. Weird. Not knowing what to do my sister and I decided to keep walking the mall and figure out how to get a hold of her. Roughly 30 minutes go by and strangely enough we see our mom walking towards us. As she gets closer she has a look that we've never seen before and we knew something serious was going on. We get outside and when we get to the truck, with tears falling down her face, she tells us our brother had gotten into a car accident early that morning and he had passed away.

I remember crying. My cry was strange because deep down I felt like it couldn't be true. The ride home was silent. My sister next to me crying and my mom trying to focus and be strong for the both of us. We got to the house and immediately my sister goes upstairs and starts packing her clothes for the trip to San Carlos. Me, still in shock and not wanting to believe it happened, I just stand downstairs. I remember my mom coming to me, trying to comfort me. I remember telling her I'm not going and to take me back to school. I remember the look on my mom's face. A look of sadness, confusion, compassion and shock. I can only imagine what she saw. A look of shock maybe, of anger, sadness, confusion. I remember grabbing my bags and leaving the house. An extremely silent drive back to school. An awkward goodbye. 

Now that I'm back at school I keep getting looks from people. Other students and teachers staring at me probably wondering why I'm there. All these looks anger me even more and I remember punching my locker in my room. Luckily no one was there to witness this outburst. We had gym time that night and while I'm there people are coming up to me telling me that they're sorry for my loss and looking at me strangely because of how I react...like nothing is wrong. The main thing I remember from this time is just the looks. Those looks are embedded in my brain. 

My girlfriend at the time was from San Carlos. She knew who my brother was and was more devastated than me at the time. She came up to my with tears in her eyes and asked me "Wes is gone?" This whole night is kind of a blur. I know I was just going through the motions of what I thought I should be doing and how I thought I should act. This was the first time in my life I've ever felt this type of pain. And I had no clue how to handle it. This was also the first time I would do what has become a norm for me. Bottle up my feelings and push them as far down as possible. I do not recommend this. 

I had dreams of my brother that night. Some were just remembering old interactions. Some were new interactions. I remember waking up crying multiple times that night. Still struggling with the fact that he was gone. Not wanting to believe it. Once again bottling those feelings up and pushing them as far down as possible. Not knowing that soon all those feelings were about to erupt back up. Once again I went through the motions that morning. Getting up and getting dressed. Going to breakfast with the rest of my dorm. This time ignoring the looks and faces of those around me. Making the short walk to the chapel for Sunday service. Everything started off as normal as it could. Sat down with friends and sang the first hymns. Then prayer requests came.

The first prayer request came from one of the faculty. I remember the exact words of the request. "Please pray for the Nash family. Hope and Patrick lost a family member yesterday and are back on the reservation right now." Hearing those words made everything true. All of those emotions that I had forced away came flooding back and erupted into tears and sobbing. I got up from my seat and ran to the bathroom where I completely lost it and remained there for the last hour of service. My heart was completely shattered. All the effort I had made to keep it together did little once the full realization of what had happened hit me. I composed myself enough to finally leave and call my mom, who was over 2 hours away at this point, to have her come pick me up. I'm sure she knew this was going to happen. 

That day was the start of a rough year. Along with my brother I lost 2 friends and got kicked out of that same boarding school. Losing people is hard. You're really never the same after that. There are some people that will tell you to get over it. That it happened a long time ago. If they are able to get over it then good for them. It's not easy for everyone. Even to this day some days are harder than others. That kind of loss sticks with you. It molded me into who I am today (which isn't always a plus). My suggestion for those who are just now going through something like this is this, don't bottle it up. Find someone you trust to talk to. Let it out. Be strong when you need to but also, know when to let go. 

I appreciate those who read this. Anyone who knows me knows that I don't open up very often. I'm an extremely private person. If you want to leave a comment you can. If not I understand. It's kind of a heavy post. Always appreciate those people in your life and let them know that you do. My regret is I don't think I did it enough. Take care people.